Prince of Wales Island
By Johnnie Laird
Dan showed up on schedule at the Hollis dock. After a morning of thick
fog and no planes flying. John Rommen (one of my Asst. Guides) came
over about mid morning and we worked on gear and the 'Cabin'. After
licensing we headed for town to take 'Beaver' in to stay with Fran
at the Fireweed Lodge. We also went to the grocery store and pick
up a few needed items. We sighted our guns in when we got back to
Hollis and headed for the Harris River for an evening hunt. The sun
was still out and the wind was dead still. As we eased up through
the hundreds of spawning salmon we spooked a sow. She talked to her
cub and us. She sent her cub up a tree. We hurried on around her.
As we were headed over to the main river we noticed a very large track
in the mud. It was a jumbo and fresh. We continued to hunt up river.
We saw lots of sign and freshly eaten fish. We sighted another bear
(medium Boar) while moving up stream. We came on out after dark. Getting
back to the cabin the wood stove felt good. Dan had gone into deep
water over his hip boots. After dinner of Navy Beans and the relish
plate that Annette had left for us it was time to turn in. It was
nice to get out, get a little exercise and get the cobwebs out.
Bobby showed up early and started in doing chores (firewood; hunting
gear; etc.). John showed up about mid morning and Dan was up and about.
About 11 PM we headed out to the fish creek. We traveled down to one
of the Trocadero Bay tributaries. We hiked into the creek and headed
up stream. We didn't see much fresh bear sign since the flooding of
last week. We came upon a medium bear and watched it fish for a while.
We continued on up stream and took a lunch break. I left Bobby, John
and Dan on the creek while I headed back to the cabin to get ready
to meet Andy (from VA). I drove on into Klawock and over to the Airport
and meet the 5:30 PM flight. Andy had made it but his gun didn't.
After our hellos we stopped by the Klawock Market and picked up a
few groceries we needed. We then headed back to the Hollis cabin.
Andy was tired from making the trip from VA in one shot. We got his
license and tags issued and snacked on the relish tray that Annette
left us. Bobby, John and Dan got in a little after dark. They only
sighted one other Bear and didn't see much sign at all. There are
lots of Humpies in the rivers for this late in the season. We made
introductions around and they ate a dinner of rice pilaf and Coho
salmon with several salads to choose from. We stayed up late talking.
Andy was up early (like 4:30AM). He is still on VA time. After coffee
and breakfast we called Alaska Airlines and they had his gun and had
turned it over to Taquan Air. We called Taquan and made arrangements
to have it sent to Klawock on the next flight. As we headed for Klawock
Bobby, John and Dan headed for a tributary of 12-Mile Arm. Andy and
I stopped on the way back to Hollis and shot our guns to make sure
they were on. Then we took a hike up one of the Harris River daring's.
We sighted some fresh sign (tracks & fresh eaten fish). We took
a stand and stayed there till twilight. No Bears came out! Bobby,
John and Dan sighted a lot of fresh sign but only one medium Bear
(Dan passed on it). We all meet back at the cabin and talked the day's
activities over and our plans for tomorrow. After pot roast, Coho
salmon, salads, Apple Spice cake we turned in.
Andy and I started out the day by looking over a few clear cuts. We
didn't sight any bears. After a discussion about all the bear sign
we spotted in the place we were at yesterday we decided to head over
there for the evening. Bobby, John and Dan decided to start out on
the roads and then go up the 12-Mile Creek again. Andy and I moved
up the tributary very slowly. The water was a little muddy from the
heavy evening rains. More fish had moved in. We took a stand for awhile.
Andy spotted a medium bear moving through the brush across the small
fish filled creek from us. Just a glimpse. After a while we decided
to take a hike up through the woods and muskegs. We eased our way
along. We saw quite a lot of Bear sign. But no Bears. We worked our
way back to the fish creek. Just before dark we moved out and down
the creek. We jumped a Bear we didn't see. We worked or way down to
the tidal flats. Just before dark a nice Bear came out to feed on
some fish in a tide pool. But he came out right where we had left
our packs. When he smelled at our packs he ran for the timber! We
came on out in the dark. We ate leftovers. When the boys returned
they said they didn't spot any Bear from the road but did see 2 up
the creek. But passed on them. We built a hot fire and put our boots
on the dryers for the night.
Andy and I were up early (like 5:00 AM). We got ready and headed for
12 Mile Arm. We worked our way up the river. The water level had dropped
with not much rain last night. We noticed a few fresh tracks and some
fresh eaten fish. We held just short of a sand bar that a Bear had
been working. It came out at less than 30 yards. It was about a 6
footer. Andy passed on the shot. We worked our way back to the rig
and drove on to the cabin. We are going to a different place this
evening with our fishing poles and guns. Bobby, John and Dan headed
for the Harris River with fishing poles and guns.
We all met at the cabin and exchanged info and plans. Bobby, John
and Dan were heading down to the mid Harris River.
Andy and I headed for Trocadero. We worked our way down a tributary
fishing while we went. Andy caught a nice Coho Salmon on his first
cast. There are too many Humpies in to fish for Coho. You can't even
get a lure through the water with out snagging one. We worked our
way down stream and did a little fishing in the lower tide holes.
We decided to go try for Bear as the evening was setting in. As we
worked our way across the tide flats we saw a lot of Bear sign. Andy
noticed a Bear across the flats. It was a nice Bear. We glassed and
discussed it. Then it looked up and ran. A larger Bear moved out of
the brush and started eating the fish the first Bear was on. This
one was a dandy. We planned the stalk. We moved back up the channel
looking for a place to cross. We would give it a try. The water was
up to our hip boot tops as we were walking on our toes. We made it
to the opposite bank. We eased across the flats in the tall grass.
Another Bear moved across the flats from our right. Another channel,
boot high water again, we made it. Andy moved ahead of me. At 100
yards we spotted the big one, it was nice, we continued our stalk.
Andy moved to 50 yards. The Bear got up and moved in our direction.
Andy looked at me for a size estimate. I gave him the 6 ˝ foot sign.
Maybe more. The Bear moved parallel at 25 yards. Andy lowered his
rifle. We watched as the big bruin eased into the brush. Andy passed
on the shot. It was a 500+ pound Bear. Andy later said it just didn't
have the large blocky head he was looking for and he still had a week
to hunt. We enjoyed the stalk and being so close to the jumbo Bear.
We moved on back to our backpacks and up stream to the rig in the
dark. When we got back to the cabin the boys were not in yet. They
returned shortly. They had found very large Bear tracks and a place
where a big Bear had been eating salmon. They took a stand until dark.
They jumped several Bear on the way out in the dark but they never
say the Bear they were looking for. They decided to get an early start
in the morning.
I set the alarm for 5:00AM to wake up Dan and Bobby. John showed up
shortly after 6:00. They headed on down to the Harris River to try
to find the big Bear that was feeding on the little side creek. Thinking
he might be out this morning. Andy and I went on down to the Harris
and Andy hooked on to another nice Coho. We fished several holes without
any luck. We then went back to the cabin to have some lunch and hook
up with the boys for our afternoon plan. They were sleeping. When
we woke them up they told us that they had not seen any Bears on their
morning hunt. It had rained all morning. We dried our rain gear and
got prepared for our afternoon fish/hunt. We all drove on down to
Trocadero trail. We hiked down to the river fishing our way to the
tide flats. I caught a nice Coho at one of the tide water holes. We
put up our poles and started across the tide flats. We sighted a nice
Bear at the same spot where Andy and I got on the Bears last evening.
Bobby and Dan put the move on. Andy, John and I continued on out toward
the bay. We saw lots of sign and took a stand around the outer tidal
flat area. We waited until just before dark and after sighting no
Bear we moved slowly back up river. We sighted 2 bear moving up river
on the far bank. Bobby and Dan were walking across the tide flats
headed out. They had not seen the big bruin come out to feed again.
We all hooked up and headed out. The constant day's rain had swollen
the creeks. We had high water to cross on the way out in the dark,
which made things interesting on Dan's last evening. We returned to
the cabin got the BBQ going and cooked up some Sish-K-Bobs to go with
the potato salad and beans that Annette had left for us. After a hot
fire and getting dried out we called it a day…..I tried to talk Dan
into hunting the next morning, or staying on some extra days, but
because of business commitments he needed to get back. He needs to
get dried out and packed up for the 1:30 PM Taquan flight to Ketchikan.
We all feel was frustrated and disappointed that he didn't connect
on a good Black Bear.
We warmed a dinner of King Salmon nuggets with pasta and Crab and
had some fresh Blue Berry pie for desert and turned in.
Andy and I packed up the Zodiac and headed for 12-Mile Arm. Just off
the Hydaburg Road in one of the older clearcuts Andy noticed a nice
Bear. So we decided to check out a few clearcuts on the way. We didn't
sight any other bears. We drove onto 12-Mile Arm. We pumped up the
Zodiac and motored up the arm. We stopped at several beaches and noticed
fresh Bear sign. We worked our way up the Arm in heavy rain showers.
We pulled into the head of the bay and took a short hike around the
tidal flats and up the fish creek. There was mass Bear sign. We took
a stand until just before dark. No Bears moved. We loaded back up
in the Zodiac and headed back down the Arm. The heavy rain showers
continued. All the creeks were at high water. We finally pulled into
the boat ramp at the old logging camp well after dark. Loaded up the
Muskeg Mobile and headed for the cabin. The auto heater felt very
good. We were very WET. Back at the cabin we warmed up leftover Beans;
Salmon Nuggets; and today's dish was baked, chicken in a bed of rice
and green beans and chocolate pie for desert. Andy stayed up reading
for a little while like usual.
Bobby showed up by noon. Andy and I were just about packed for our
mountain climb. It was a nice afternoon. After the short drive to
the trailhead we started the climb. In about 3 ˝ hard hours we made
it to the Low Alpine Camp. The brush wasn’t to wet. We set up the
rain tarps. Andy and Bobby headed for the mountain top deer zone while
I stayed and set up the rest of camp. I fixed a cup of tea and took
a walk around camp. I noticed fresh Deer and Bear sign. I took another
cup of tea over to the viewpoint and sat down with my binoculars.
There is a black spot and its moving. It’s a nice bear across the
canyon in the lower alpine. Bobby and Andy showed up about dark, they
had sighted 3 bucks, a few does and 2 small Bears. We fixed freeze
dried dinners and had a small fire and turned in.